Stiffness and shear moduli of human trabecular bone may be analyzed in vivo by finite element (FE) analysis from image data obtained by clinical imaging equipment such as high resolution peripheral quantitative computed tomography (HR-pQCT). In clinical practice today, this is done in the peripheral skeleton like the wrist and heel. In this cadaveric bone study, fourteen bone specimens from the wrist were imaged by two dental cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) devices and one HR-pQCT device as well as by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA). Histomorphometric measurements from micro-CT data were used as gold standard. The image processing was done with an in-house developed code based on the automated region growing (ARG) algorithm. Evaluation of how well stiffness (Young's modulus E3) and minimum shear modulus from the 12, 13, or 23 could be predicted from the CBCT and HR-pQCT imaging data was studied and compared to FE analysis from the micro-CT imaging data. Strong correlations were found between the clinical machines and micro-CT regarding trabecular bone structure parameters, such as bone volume over total volume, trabecular thickness, trabecular number and trabecular nodes (varying from 0.79 to 0.96). The two CBCT devices as well as the HR-pQCT showed the ability to predict stiffness and shear, with adjusted R2-values between 0.78 and 0.92, based on data derived through our in-house developed code based on the ARG algorithm. These findings indicate that clinically used CBCT may be a feasible method for clinical studies of bone structure and mechanical properties in future osteoporosis research.
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